Riga

Riga is the business capital of the Baltics and it is the only capital of the three that has a real big-city buzz. The city is now firmly on the tourist map with an increasing number of both budget carriers and full-fare airlines now connecting the Latvian capital with other European cities. The Latvian Air Baltic is certainly one of the best functioning local carriers in the Baltics.

The focus of Riga, as it has always been, is firmly on the Old Town, which tumbles towards the banks of the Daugava River in a maze of cobbles, voluminous spires and impressive squares. Riga has also Europe's most impressive array of Germanic art nouveau architecture, a fact recognised by UNESCO on its World Heritage List. Much of the art nouveau lies across Bastekalns Park in the New Town, the commercial and business heart of the city, with its broad avenues and grid-like layout, while further downriver is the city's sprawling port.

The Baltic Sea is just over 12km away and Riga's weather is not as harsh as many people imagine. Winter can indeed be long, dark and bitter but spring and summer days are often blessed with warm daytime temperatures and long hours of daylight. When the sun shines, the city's numerous parks fill up, tables spill out of cafes and people laze along the city canal in rowing boats, in a scene that is more Mediterranean than Eastern European.

At the same time this historical city boasts a strong cultural presence, as evidenced by its world known Riga Opera house, popular theatres and strong ballet performances. Considered one of the world's most livable cities, Riga has rapidly become one of the most sought-after travel destinations in New Europe.

10 things to see in Riga

Dome Cathedral

Over the centuries it has been rebuilt and reshaped by many occupying nations, which is why there are many apparent architectural styles to the building. The cathedral is also famous for its huge church organ, which has 6718 pipes and is the fourth largest in the world. Around the Cathedral is the Dome square, where there are regular festivities, concerts and cultural events. It's a beautiful place to discover.

St.Peter's church

St.Peter's church is 800 years old and the highest building in Riga. Here Riga was born when the German crusaders founded the city in 1201. Peter's Church has collapsed and burned a number of times but each time it has been rebuilt. The current tower was completed in 1973. The tower has a viewing platform that allows its guests to walk 360 degrees around the tower. From the top of this tall spire, the capital reveals itself in a brilliant panorama.

Three Brothers

These are the oldest stone residential dwellings in Riga, with the oldest dating back to the 15th century and can be found in the centre of the Old Town. The oldest house at number 17 is called the White Brother, and dates back to the 15th century. The house in the middle, at number 19, is the Yellow Brother from the 17th century and the youngest is the Green Brother of number 21 from the 19th century. Apart from enjoying the medieval aesthetics of these great buildings, you can also find the Riga Museum of Architecture. It has a large collection of original drawings, plans, blueprints and some great exhibition programs.

Riga Castle

Riga Castle dates back to14th century, and now home not only to two museums, but the offices and residence of the President of Latvia as well Though like most castles it's been stormed, destroyed, and re-built it has survived more or less intact since the 1930s, and is a symbol of Riga's beginnings, built on the site of first permanent structure in the city from the 13th century.

House of Blackheads

One of the architectural treasures of Riga, it was rebuilt in honour of the city's 800th anniversary in 2001. Dating from 1344, it was destroyed in 1941. The Soviets completely pulled down the ruins in 1948, because it was considered to represent 'decadent' German architecture. A striking Gothic building with a Dutch Renaissance facade, it was used to house travelling, single members of the merchants' guild. Many of its fantastic riches accompanied Baltic-Germans who repatriated to Germany in the late 1930s. The building is open to the public.

Freedom monument

This huge monument was built to commemorate Latvian independence and for many Latvians it is the spiritual centre of the country. The mighty monument is Latvia's most honoured monument and also the symbol of the free Latvia. It was raised in 1935, when Latvia was independent a short period of time between 1920 and 1940. The high statue is measuring 42 meters. The Freedom Monument managed to survive the Soviet regime without being destroyed.

Central market

The Baltic's largest market place has occupied these converted Zeppelin hangars since its inaugural year in 1930, and still retains the lively feel of a traditional trade emporium. Each of the five hangars, or 'pavilions', has a different speciality - such as meat, fish, groceries and dairy products, whilst a number of stalls and canopies around the hangars sell everything from fresh produce to cheap socks and dodgy DVDs.

Bastion park

Dividing the Old Town from the Central District with the Freedom Monument in the middle, Bastion Park itself is divided by the winding Pilsetas Canal. Besides benches to bask in the sun and picturesque bridges over the canal, the park contains memorials to those who died there in Latvia's struggle for freedom in 1991.

Art Nouveau district

Riga is first known as the capital of Art Nouveau architecture, also referred to as Jugendstil style by the Germans. Despite the medieval origins, Riga's uniqueness lies in the fact that it boasts the largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe. Between 1896 and 1913, the city expanded and a housing boom followed. The design style was mainly influenced by German, Austrian and Finnish architects. Alberta Street and the neighbouring western part of Elizabetes street are considered to be the heart of Art Nouveau in Riga. The well-known philosopher Isaiah Berlin grew up in Alberta street where many of the buildings were designed by Mikhail Eisenstein.

Riga National Opera

Riga national opera is located just next to the Freedom Monument, between the old and the new city of Riga. It was the first building that was completely renovated when Latvia regained its independence in 1991, which shows thet the beatuiful opera is very much loved by the people in Riga. The National Opera of Riga is considered to be one of the best on Europe.

 

City break offer for 2 persons including accommodation in dbl room for 2 nights, transfer in and out, guided walking tour (price per person starting from)

3* hotel 139 EUR p.p.

4* hotel 155 EUR p.p.

5* hotel 172 EUR p.p.

Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Riga Dome Cathedral
Riga Dome Cathedral
The Three Brothers
The Three Brothers
Church steeples in Old Riga
Church steeples in Old Riga
Riga market
Riga market
The Latvian National Opera
The Latvian National Opera
Daugava river
Daugava river
The Blackhead's House in the evening
The Blackhead's House in the evening
Old Town court-yard
Old Town court-yard
Bridge over Daugava river
Bridge over Daugava river
Christmas in Riga
Christmas in Riga
Riga harbour
Riga harbour
Art Nouveau Riga
Art Nouveau Riga
Riga castle
Riga castle


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